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A Thought for Today

Leave something behind, or don't bother dying.


Todayís Flight Plan was supposed to be more about the Remember Pearl Harbor edition of ďSongs That Won the War.Ē My apologies for not getting to it, but I leave at 8:30 in the morning for Sacramento and I should get some sleep. Part two about the album will have to wait.

Thanks to all of you who showed up at Barnes & Noble last night. I had a great time. Tonight (July 4th) I watched a spectacular fireworks presentation from a hilltop house in Redding. My best Independence Day in years, despite a really disturbing phone call that tried to put a damper on the day and the four hours I spent after arriving home trying to answer it.

For some reason I seem to be getting a lot of flack from home during this past week, so after a long, hard, but very enjoyable two weeks away, I guess there isnít much hope for the rest I need before I go off on tour. Iím not sure when the next original Flight Plan will appear, but with Kenís help I will try to provide you with something new and meaningful every day. Thatís what Iím here for and thatís what this site is all about.

Apparently I have a lot to sort out before I head off to Riverton and Santa Fe, but Iíll do it. . . . and Iíll be there for you as promised. Iím really looking forward to both performances and all thatís planned for in-between. 

The past year has been one of the happiest of any in my life and nothing or no one is about to change that for me. Iíve worked long and hard to get to this point in my life and if I havenít earned some happiness, Iíll take it anyway.

Think of me as I think of you, with love. Sleep warm.

RM 7/15/01 Previously unpublished

Updated McKuen biography just posted! Click below for more details:

Rod McKuen Biography

notable birthdays P.T. Barnum o Jean Cocteau o Julie Nixon Eisenhower o Adm. David Farragut o Nikki Habib o Katherine Helmond o Shirley Knight o Wanda Landowska o Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. o Huey Lewis o Ilona Massey o Rose McCammon o Joe Montebello o Warren Oates o George Pompidou o Cecil Rhodes o Janos Starker o Milburn Stone
Rod's random thoughts Eyes that look on love are easily the windows of the world.

When being judged, never ask "compared to what ?" You might receive an answer.

We may be lifted high by love, but to stay there we must continue to care for what we left below, remembering that it is not only possible but necessary to share... everything.


Safety seizes me
more often
as the years go by.
I stay at home
with my discomfort
sure because of my unsureness.

Silence owns me,
will not let me go
unless I force myself
out the door -
( now double-locked )
into the elevator
and turned out upon the street.

The street is beautiful.
Where once I kept
within the shadow
of tall buildings
I now parade in sunlight,
windowshop and stop
for crossings.

Sometimes even greet
old friends
I never knew had moved
into the neighborhood.

Once I'm on the street
I might meander
two blocks, five
or anywhere.

If I pack a lunch
I might stay within the city
sunrise to the day's end.
But I'd remain on guard
showing off my sanity
making sure that passersby
continue in their passing
and so such preconceived a plan
as lunches paper bagged
and ready to be shared
is an indulgence
I cannot afford.

I might as well be home,
trimming sideburns, changing shirts
or studying my own reflection
at the mirror's edge
( long ago I learned to shave,
tie ties and comb my hair
without confronting mirrors squarely ).

The street exists for me
as a place of observation.
The pace I practice,
head down striding, straight ahead
is meant to preclude others
from observing me.

I will not say that dark intentions
fail to lurk inside of me
nor that I keep them in control
and they cannot of themselves
bob freely to the surface
but my forays are not so planned
that I darn undarned underwear
in case the truck or trailerís
aim is true
and I'm unmasked forever
by nurse or undertaker.

I am not afraid of streets
no alleyway has been
antagonistic to me.
Highways leading east and west
and all the other variations
have been home.

But my new home is safety.
Not Rome or Omaha or Oakland,
Paris or the scattered islands
pretending to be Greek.
While I bear no grudge
to Alamo or San Francisco,
their knives are sharpened
waiting not behind the structures
but in the naked or
the peopled paths for me.

But pride or paranoia
does not, will not
keep me from appointed avenues.
What I feel for sidewalks
is akin to how I loved
the railroad right of way
when I was ten and younger.

Perhaps I've run too often
in these so different places
not to know
that what I feel
is more than dreaming.

I am not complaining.
City streets and those
in little towns
have given me so much
that I could build
an airfield or a pyramid
out of all the outside spaces
I've been allowed to occupy.

Rejection, then, runs riot.
Perhaps I'm streetwise
knowing that.
And while rejection
never seems to walk
toward me
arms spread wide
and smile curled down.
It always waits
in Eastern cities.
That's the game,
taking the chance
looking rejection
in the eye.
Curiously I'm never suspect
of acceptance.
That has more to do with need
than ego.

I need,
but I'm not complaining
that would be disservice
to the worlds I've toured and traveled.

Even now,
despite the worry
that I cannot measure up
to what I think I should be
I know a new acquaintance,
friend and maybe more
will seek me out and find me.
If ever I forget
I've but to think back
to a nearby yesterday
to know that I've been rediscovered
nightly and twice nightly.
Just when finally sure
that I'd been relegated
to the backroom
and the field beyond the clearing.

This winter
after some deliberation
I've decided yet again
to give New York another try.

Those years ago on Fifty-Fifth Street
when I sold blood and sometimes me
to keep alive
are not remembered sadly.
They were only different years
full of other kinds of circumstance.

I could count on Sloopy
when the world was turning
but not fast enough
now the needs not filled by others
have been assumed by Nickoli,
who sleeps just underneath my chin
and in the morning purrs me wide awake.

These days
my voice calls out
from too wide T.V. screens
exhorting others to give blood
and in the space I've traveled,
( one block over to the right )
within the intervening years
I've been bought and sold
electronically by experts.

a thirty-fifth floor penthouse
isn't that much different
from a three flight walk-up.
More public in the elevator, yes
but all my walls are thick.

Best of all
the New York City streets
are little changed
and more a home to me
than stereo and stainless chairs.

Do not be surprised
to see me then
breaking all the rules
I've here set down.
I'll get through the winter
yes I will
bare headed and all smiles
even if I do so
step by step on city streets alone.
Crossing crossings
or waiting for the light
to change
I go on hearing optimistic voices.

Could I
I would not deny
that even in this city's 
coldest cold,
its poorest gray mid-winter night...
almost more than anywhere,
once in a while along the way
love's been good to me.

-from Loveís Been Good to Me,Ē 1978

ADDENDUM: 5 July, 2001

Perhaps a cabin in the woods awaits,
a place Iíll visit in my dreams until
reality outweighs the dream.
Treetops in the shadow
of Mt. Shasta might give way
to blanket spread on desert floor.
The same stars and the gloating moon
                                     favor both.

5 July, 2001 4:11 AM Previously unpublished

© 1978, 1984, 2001 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Birthday research by Wade Alexander o Poetry from the collection of Jay Hagan o Coordinated by Melinda Smith
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